The Skull Defekts - The Temple
Martin Goodhead 19/05/2009
This is a head-wreck sleaze record, thumping, ambient and wracked with near-mystical polarities; a temple torn asunder. Less dense than Neurosis, or unmitigatingly alienating as Kharve, this defekt noise is garage rock turned garage Pendericki soundtrack world metal; a neo-psychedelic burnout sonata constructed from bleeps, tape-folds and processed drills all coupled to a deep sludge-skewing industrial groove. Until halfway it sounds like a cobweb covered fly infested industrial rehearsal space during a grid-flood--for every familiar d-tuned note early on, every rumbustious dirt-groove, a counter-chord overlaps it like a shadow self. Like--it's a familiar concept at the mind warp edges of pop-culture, the breakdown as evil doppelganger, but let's say it's the sound of Bill Pullman's nighttime cryogen-paint camera-wielding stalkers in Lynch's Lost Highway. That inimitable 'Other'- Isis reference deliberate. This is a record bent on crooked revisitation, refracted remixes of every unforgiving post-punk foundation beat crossed with an adrenaline caned Icarus-Line (not de, but) un-tuned, forcibly glacial from the meths but still thrashing--from within itself.
The Temple collides sludge rock, with its dyspeptically studied tendency to retreat into itself, to flickering club floors with a trance-hardcore monotony; the sinister side of euphoria awakened. Like a pasty, surly drone geek force-fed Papa New Guinea remixes in the lab and released, it leers forth with juddery-man dance-shapes like the nightclub chimeras of morbid crust-punk psyche students. The clash of bodies and electro-glitches get witnessed through a mix of anthropological edaciousness and amph-cut lysergic terror. The sound of a sixty-five minute desolation hum, with fantasies of neon-bangles like necklaces of fibula, polka dot dressed Cindy's as bitch goddesses splattered with black-blood.
Its makers? They're The Skull Defekts, sunny-o, drone legends and accomplices of I-d certified noise merchants like Wolf Eyes. A blatantly Boris edged excursion into riffdom, 'Knives, Birds and Stones' begins with a generator crank of nearly rock; distortion whose bottom end is smothered with pulsars and crumpling sheets of sound—and hits the vein for thirty more minutes. Joachim Nordwall on lead howls slurs with deadpan elocutes like a beat poet, mimics Josh Homme's melodious whine, scats like Iggy possessed; then right at 'Habits' climax emits a lung-bleeding char-rasp like the spirit in the eiderdown sea's comedown crash in that warehouse mattress earth, which sighs its squelching gasp-. Then halfway through the music turns opaque; no voice except feedback magician Henrik Rylander's static, sirens and appliance hum to a ghastly invocation in constant tantric suspense.
You could reduce the shift to a psycho-topography tracing its chemical-musical descent, from stained misanthropic lust-driven grime into a genderless, space less mathematical description of our common friend, the Fear. Too skulled to speak. Yet there are constants; the kind of dense multi-track production-led and obsessional intronaut freak out that works synchronically over a dia-narrative of kiss, bliss to tittinus and wrack-head hiss. In other words this music's just digs for your soul's ambeoite-covered hidden wreck. In shooting for a immutable deep space myth rendition since “we're all one” ends up resembling everything else-- its intronaut curved time travel sinking them back to civilisations which don't fetishise 'originality', the new or accuse them of 'Careering' on 'Death-Disco' rip-offs. But give them scaly love instead. But for us those serrated drum fills in the void genuflect to '79 PIL and Martin Hannett's prime production; in the throbbing gristle of Palace's dna it spells out dirty-dub and the brittle seeds of disco-rock-forking off mutating either through to electro-Goth prime Depeche Mode and NIN, or to Washington crunge, Oregon's Faint indie-friendly splice-up, Liars no-wave new broom and now like William Hurt in Altered States experiments it all devolves back to this feral subconscious stew.
Amidst this treated cacophony emerge eastern noises, the khatala and manjeera. Or drums that are 'skull-like skulls'- for instrument-geeks. A tingle of Afro-beats polyrythms break into a Santana ritual, a Sufi-tabular chant and then shards of guitar-- all mossy from the undergrowth and covered in sighing insect buzz—writhe against Brazilian death-metal roots music straight to the Earth. Swedish? You'd never guess. The rhythm and texture of underground clubs are created by those insistent techno-drone drumbeats, but stripped of the usual toxo-mystical reveller communion. If The Temple throws you into primordial biorhythms, it's all tooth and claw assault attacks and flesh-less bone art corroded by lava and putrid jungle floors. Internal sounds of jangling nerves translate into computer-scan pulses, the 3.15am city aura of lovers, distant tin-clatter timbres and power-line throbs in the silence is reminiscent of Schrader's Cat People< or those disquieting and-slightly absurd wig-out eco-horror meets 'mass-consciousness' mood films of the 70's. Digitized into echoes of the canopy. Wasp in jar insect royalty hymn music cascades over like subterranean tides in the hot-springs; beneath the grind-sleaze crawl is an urban jungle of creepers, locusts and tunnels where the air creates inhuman sweetness like 'Breaking Glass'. Structurally 'Temple' does come off a little 'Low'. Much like the situationist maxim—beneath the pavement, the streets, modern life is a madness of demonic coffee machines and satanic office-blocks, so, being the spawn of warped psychedelic hippies music, they drop out down to the beach man, and just archaeologise, they soul mine; and theirs are ugly-beautiful.
Our shifty Nordic post-human narrator in his den quite naturally wishes to crawl over his-abstract electro dive conquest—or jungle mistress; celebrates her in the same stained-mattress, leafed-page versification vocabulary of bitter honey and lizards gifted from Reed to Reznor to ad nausea. Even those elemental love song mantras of scratched necks and purple-nailed chilly palms on broken mattresses in haunted apartments wearing no-wave shades and fangs though are done for when grey-light dissolves dusty apparition conjurations. This music's just about ends upon ends really—the sex is completely thanatos- a death-drive stomp. See 'Skull and Tongue', filled with aphasic rhythmic guitars flickering up and down like drowners; 'Waverings' glassy keyboard monotones threatening and failing to harmonise with the tom-toms; ever-present moogs which then granulate and curdle, or can't break-out of one note drones.
They don't really deal in connection beats, especially when half the time their sound glitches and it stutters like, well, like periphrastic phalluses even if such perpetual grime and churn still suggest perverse visions of 'get-down'- breakdown coitus. SD seem to think these are polymorphous paeans on post-urban androgynies conjured from a polysemous genre-splicing -ecstasy-soaked nightmare. So after fifty deep witching- minutes of subliminal feedback, the dub-trippy JD ' I still remember' echoing breakdown of mantric city noise 'Urban Ritual' makes perfect aesthetic sense. But in the wake of day, it's nine minutes too far, a petit mort revulsion sweeping over you after so much sustained body-shaking; an indulgence absolved plenarily only by those highly juiced acolytes of murk-core. Admirably unflinching, this LP, but like their contemporaries, you kind of wish they could spread the palette rather than just all those weird tritone unearthly colours, with some acoustics or mutated disco or anything designed to groove and move you rather than send pneumatic-drill quivers down your lobes and sinews, in the process hardening their attack but for a band who sound like they want to corrupt-up minds and fill your holes, locked into a underground solipsism.
Still, when the lights are down and the venue's tight you can bet they'd be 45 minutes of perverse pleasures; shake and saturate the slimy walls and on the way home you'll see the passing clubs in a whole new dark light.
The Temple is out now on Important Records